Maryland’s Question 4: Proponents Push Overtly Fraudulent DREAM Act Cost Estimates

By: James Simpson
Accuracy in Media

“There is little information available on the number of additional students who might qualify for resident tuition, thus the general fund expenditure increase cannot be reliably estimated.”

Maryland Department of Legislative Services

November 6 is fast approaching and Marylanders are facing a plethora of ballot referendums to decide. None will have greater fiscal impact than Question 4, regarding in-state tuition for illegal aliens.

Over the past year, the Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration and others with a vested interest in the DREAM Act’s passage have led a choreographed effort to win on Question 4. This has included a barrage of frivolous lawsuits to silence, intimidate and financially ruin opponents, relentless public slander, and a chorus of support for the DREAM Act among the usual suspects. As we move closer to November 6, The Baltimore Sun reports that supporters and opponents are in a statistical dead heat despite O’Malley’s massive, well-funded and state-supported effort.

Prior to the DREAM Act’s passage in 2011, the Department of Legislative Services provided an extremely low-ball cost estimate based on a deeply flawed analysis. This year the governor covertly commissioned an “independent study” to further deceive taxpayers into believing the DREAM Act could even be a financial boon for Maryland.

As we go to press, even some in the media have become skeptical. Today, the Washington Post-owned Gazette newspaper issued an editorial opposing the DREAM Act. Citing much higher cost estimates asserted by DREAM Act opponents, they stated, “…many questions remain about the cost of enacting the tuition break,” and concluded, “A vote against Question 4 will allow more time to bring clarity and equity to the matter.”

In the popular “Hunger Games” book series, a character named Peeta is brainwashed by the Capital’s evil President Snow. He relearns fact from fake by asking his friends if the information in his mind is “real or not real.” In the analysis that follows, we separate fact from fake and show just how our own “Governor O’Snowjob” has attempted to brainwash Maryland taxpayers.

FAKE: The Maryland Department of Legislative Services estimated the DREAM Act’s initial budgetary impact at $778,400 in FY 2014, increasing to $3.5 million by FY 2016. These estimates assume 366 students costing $2,127 each in 2014. They do not explain the five fold cost increase to $3.5 million in 2016 except to say that there will be more students and cost per student will rise.

FACT: Maryland’s DREAM Act will cost at least tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars per year and reduce available openings for legal Maryland residents at public universities. Legislative Services based their entire analysis solely on estimates of enrolled illegals at Montgomery College. They excluded Maryland’s 15 other community colleges because, “It is unknown how many students at other community colleges in the State may be undocumented immigrants.” Their analysis also completely ignored the cost of providing in-state tuition at Maryland public universities.

But even the Montgomery County cost estimate is low. Judicial Watch found that between 2007 and 2010, Montgomery College lost $7.9 million in revenues from students who “were unable to demonstrate, or failed to demonstrate that they were lawful residents of Montgomery County.” These students enrolled for a total of approximately 11,000 credit hours in each of those four years. If one assumes a normal credit load of 30 credits per year per student (15 hours per semester), we arrive at exactly 366 students, the estimate provided by Legislative Services. The annual cost, however, was $5,400 per student ($7.9 million/366 students/4 years). This roughly approximates the average difference between in-county, out-of-county and out-of-state tuition rates at Montgomery College ($5,472). Those rates differ at other institutions and may be more or less.

Montgomery College has a student body of approximately 26,000. 366 students represent 1.4 percent of the total. That may be high for some other community colleges so we will be conservative and assume that statewide, only 1 percent of the student body is comprised of illegals. There are approximately 150,000 students at Maryland’s 16 community colleges, which would imply an illegal student population of 1,500. At $5,400 each, cost for illegals to attend community college would thus be about $8 million per year, ($5,400 x 1,500).

The DREAM Act requires that illegals be counted as out-of-state students in determining the proportion of in-state vs. out-of-state enrollment at public universities. The Legislative Services report states, “The impact of this provision is a potential loss of the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition and fee revenue for each undocumented student enrolled at a USM institution (except UMUC).” They assume this cost will be negligible. How?

The table below shows a weighted average annual cost difference of $12,688 between in-state and out-of-state tuition at affected universities. If 1,500 students take advantage of the program to attend Maryland universities, the cost could be as much as $19 million per year, ($12,688 x 1,500). The annual cost of educating 1,500 students at both community college and public universities would thus be $27 million. Four year cost would approach $40,000 per student.

Maryland Public Universities – In-state and Out-of-state Tuition and Mandatory Fees
Weighted Average Cost 2012- 2013 Academic Year[*]

(See chart at Accuracy in Media)

Student enrollment and resulting cost could be much higher. Following President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” executive order, CASA de Maryland Director Gustavo Torres signed up an estimated 1,000 illegal youths for the program in one day. He estimated 10,000 would eventually enroll, of which 8,000 to 9,000 would go to college. Based on our estimate of $5,400 per student, in-state tuition at community cleges alone for 8,000 students would cost $43 million per year. As we explain later, there may be 50,000 or more illegal students in Maryland.

Covering the out-of-state cost differential for 8,000 students at public universities would exceed $100 million per year. But this may not occur. While the total number of student slots available at each institution is fixed, Maryland’s public universities have broad latitude in determining the proportion of in-state vs. out-of-state students accepted. To avoid paying the excessive costs of providing in-state tuition to illegals, the universities will increase out-of-state enrollment, reducing the number of openings available to legal Maryland residents. Legal residents will be increasingly displaced as more of the diminishing number of in-state slots are taken by illegals.

And this is just the beginning. Financial aid and grants are now being provided to illegals in other DREAM Act states. It is virtually certain that the Maryland Legislature will begin adding those kinds of bells and whistles if the DREAM Act survives the upcoming referendum. Finally, increased enrollment may force colleges and universities to expand, requiring added facilities and teachers, and higher tuition rates. The result will be a hemorrhage of state coffers, as Governor O’Malley continues to build a nationwide voter base for his 2016 presidential aspirations on the backs of Maryland taxpayers.

O’Malley’s Fraudulent “Independent” DREAM Act Study

FAKE: In early October, one month away from the election, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County published a supposedly “independent” report expounding upon the DREAM Act’s virtues.

FACT: In a matter of days, the group Help Save Maryland revealed that this study wasn’t independent at all, but commissioned by Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, likely with the governor’s interest in mind, if not at his behest.

FAKE: The study assumes only about 435 students per year would take advantage of the DREAM Act, that these numbers would not grow, and that the DREAM Act would not be a magnet for illegal aliens.

FACT: Our analysis suggested a conservative minimum of 1,500 students per year. CASA de Maryland’s Gustavo Torres is confident it will be more like 8,000 – 9,000. He is probably right. The Pew Hispanic Center has estimated that nationwide, “Children of unauthorized immigrants are 6.8 percent of students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12.” In California, children of illegals in grade school represent an astounding 13.5 percent of the total.

According to the Maryland Department of Planning, 824,928 students were enrolled in Maryland K–12 public schools in 2011, the latest year for which actual data is available. Applying Pew’s national estimate of 6.8 percent suggests that more than 56,000 children of illegals attend Maryland K-12 public schools. Given Maryland’s burgeoning illegal population, it is reasonable to assume the actual figure is much higher.

Maryland has been an illegal alien magnet since the 1980s, when Montgomery County became a sanctuary destination for Salvadorans fleeing their nation’s civil war. Governor O’Malley’s sanctuary state policies have only exacerbated the problem. Montgomery County became a minority-majority county in 2010, with the county’s Hispanic population growing by almost 70 percent since 2000. Prince Georges County’s Hispanic population doubled in the same period.

FAKE: The report estimated a cumulative cost of $7.4 million for 435 students, which translates to about $17,000 per student.

FACT: Our analysis indicates the cumulative cost will be about $40,000 per student.

FAKE: The report assumes that every single DREAM Act student will obtain high paying employment in Maryland following graduation and excel at those jobs, increasing their earning potential to the tune of $96,500 per student. It also assumes that they will never leave Maryland.

FACT: At present, illegals cannot legally apply for jobs at all. Even if they could, current graduates from four-year institutions are having difficulty finding any jobs, let alone high paying ones, and adding illegals to the pool will only exacerbate the problem, making it even harder for legitimate job seekers. Finally, the report provides no justification to support its estimates.

This past July, UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski abandoned any pretense of “independence,” in announcing his support for the DREAM Act. He made this announcement at a UMBC rally conspicuously populated by students wearing CASA de Maryland t-shirts. Baltimore County Delegate Pat McDonough commented that it was, “improper for a public official who derives his pay from the taxpayers of Maryland to support an issue that will cost those same taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the future.” Hard to imagine how a widely touted study could really be “independent” given President Hrabowski’s widely publicized position on the subject, but as we have seen, it is neither independent nor accurate.

James Simpson is a former Office of Management and Budget (White House budget office) economist and budget analyst. He is currently a businessman and freelance writer. Best known for his exposé on the Cloward Piven Strategy of manufactured crisis, his writings have been published in American Thinker, The New Media Journal, Washington Times, FrontPage Magazine, Whistleblower, DefenseWatch, Soldier of Fortune and others. His blog is Truth and Consequences. Email James.


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